New Year
I stepped out onto the porch this morning.
Finally, snow.  It was a long time coming.
It’s not one of those snows that
cripples the city.
But it laid enough down
to cleanse this vale.
The cold, bitter cold,
bit my flesh
reminding me of my fragile existence.
The frigid air swelled inside my lungs,
crackling the stale oxygen held tightly within.
It is not what I expected.
It wasn’t the blinding blizzard that
I demanded.
It was a sweet and gentle falling.
It was a cleansing that gifted me today.
White washing the world from
it’s dingy history.
Polishing the fenestella,
allowing my eyes to encounter
the brilliance of the azure vault,
discovering the delights once hidden behind melancholy.
Freezing the dripping heartbreaks of the past
and worries of the future
into sparkling icicles
fracturing the light,
melting into gutters,
flowing through the sewers to oblivion.
Stepping back into the warmth,
I must remember to cultivate this freshness,
not allowing malaise to shroud the bliss.
A virgin bloom has opened this morn,
may it’s favor ever bless the new year.
This month has been a gift.  I made a commitment and made it through to the end.  I discovered, no, that’s not right…I let myself see what has always been there.
         I create.  I know that. I am happiest when I create. It’s always been there.  From the time I made May alters for Mary when I was in grade school at Holy Rosary, till yesterday, learning how to tie a knot in elastic cord so it won’t come undone, my soul yearns to create.
          I also love to share.  I know that, too.  I love giving gifts, especially ones that I’ve made.  I love to watch people open presents.  Since I was a child, I wasn’t so interested in getting gifts as I was watching people open gifts.  I love to see faces glow when a gift is open, especially when it is something that is cherished.
         But here’s the hitch.  Once I see what I have made and given to the delight of my friends, that old ego kicks in and starts to find ways to get “rich.”  “What ifs” abound and the joy is sucked from the creation.  I start planning to quit my job and just do “this.”  It will make me happy AND I can make a living out of it.
         It is that ego checking in.  This is my work in progress.  This is my core story.  It is what seems to be at the base of my poetry.  I am glad to be able to see it.  My project for 2011: Tame the ego, but let dreams live.  It really boils down to living fully in the present. All the great mystics, philosophers, and happy people, understand this.  Disappointment lives in the past and fear looks wantonly to the future, taking my life hostage. It is the here and now that I must live and make time to create. 
In the end….
Thank you Susan of the Evening Pie for being my writing buddy. I’ve learned so much from you about life, resiliency and being real. (Please take a look at her blog. You can’t help but be inspired. )
Thank you Sojourner Deb for giving me the courage to connect to Him in my writing and the inspiration to add to my bag of creativity. You are a great example of letting your voice be heard through your art. (Take a peek here, too. It’s a delight. )
Thank you Reverb10 for giving me the opportunity to challenge myself. 
Have a great year!

December 31 – Core Story What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.) (Author: Molly O’Neill)

Reverb10 – December 30 – Gift.

December 30 – Gift Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)

Ah, gifts are not just received, but also given.  As I look back on the gifts I been given this year, I see that it is always a two way street. One leads to the other and back again.
Deck full of flowers. A gift of cash for my birthday allowed me to buy lots of flowers. But I needed help from my dad to water and Leroy to carry and haul.  But in the end, we all enjoyed the amazing blooms this year.

Gift of letting go.  I gave into what my garden is. It is small, not enough sun for veggies, even with out the aspens that went away. So it will now be a garden for birds and butterflies and bees. Eventually, with little need for water. Bulbs and flowers from mom will greet us in the spring giving hope that life goes on.

Dad was with us for another year and his 90th.  Amazing man who stills takes care of the dog and the dishes and himself and, most importantly, us.  I am watching him change and have less energy and be more forgetful, not hear or see as well. I see him fading from this earth, but it is a gift to have him here.

My actor husband has been acting in “grown-up” shows as opposed to just his children’s theatre work.  He is amazing and I am so proud of him.  He also dabbles in magic while performing Shakespeare and teaches me about the stars. Such a gift.

Time to write. This is the gift I’ve given myself.  Through letting go of the quest to be the perfect teacher, I am giving myself the time to be the perfect me, not that I’m perfect by a long shot.  It’s just that I am me and am recognizing who I am, bad, as well as good. And I like me. What a surprise gift.
My friends, the real ones, and so many.  Oh, God bless you for appreciating and accepting me for who I am. Such patience and love. I love you, too.  I love you sharing your life with me.
Wednesday Afternoon Writers. What a lovely group of courageous people who come together to write and share.  It is such a joyful gift to learn about your friends in such an intimate way. This is truly a beautiful gift.

Dinners with Maureen. My dearest friend with whom I share the trials and tribulations of being a teacher.  She is one, too. This is a gift for our husbands so they don’t have to listen to our complaints.

Learning what my body needs. Because of a knee injury and not wanting to share this gift with my doctor, I shared it with Stephanie at Elements Massage. Her hands are magic and I can walk with much less pain, do stairs with more ease up AND down, and my back doesn’t hurt.  But Dorothea gave me the gift of being a buddy to share painting my fingernails and toenails. Never done that before. It’s a good gift for the spirit. And, of course, Weight Watchers. I need it and I’ll be there for the rest of my life. I’m learning to accept this gift of support for the good of my body.

Connecting with Sue and Deb. Reverb10 has given me the gift of reconnecting with two friends from years ago. The best part is sharing our art, writing and photography, and lives.  What bliss to share the creative soul. Again, an intimate acknowledgement to be respected and honored.
School.  Learning to just focus on simply loving the children and being confident in knowing that I am a good teacher. Letting go of the things I have no control over.  That is my gift to them and to me.
And today’s gift. Snow. Sitting by the window with my dog sleeping on his pillow in my beautiful office writing, playing games, and drinking espresso in my Christmas jammies.
Wow. Life is a gift.

Reverb10 – December 28 – Defining Moment

December 29 – Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)
Like my friend blogger, Susan of The Evening Pie, commented, I also am tired of talking about myself and my past year and finding “magical” moments that have turned my life around, or not.  I think Reverb10 needs to take a serious look and reach for more of a variety for next years prompts, especially toward the end.
So, instead, I’m posting the piece I wrote from my writer’s group this afternoon.  We gather every Wednesday to write from a prompt.  Most of us are elementary school teachers or retired teachers with little personal writing experience.  But that doesn’t stop our fun.  We write because we enjoy doing it and each other’s company.  These are not earth-shattering pieces, or polished works to knock your socks off.  They come from 10 to 15 minutes of quick writing and then we share with one another.
I have to say that I relish my Wednesday afternoons.  My co-writers are brave to share un-edited works and to be so open to comments.  What is so magical, though, is what we learn about one another.  We surprise ourselves.  It is a group of supportive people and I thank my lucky stars to have them in my life.
So here is what I wrote today.  If you want to read more, you can go to the Facebook page called “Wednesday Afternoon Writers.”  We’re just beginning to post our work. You are warmly invited to join us!
This afternoon’s prompt from the terrific book, Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Newbauer, gave us each a different character caught doing something by someone who doesn’t know the whole story.  We were to write in the present, first person, and be the only voice. The person who caught us couldn’t speak in the piece.  We wrote for 15 minutes and had to start with “This isn’t…”
My prompt: You are a psychic raising a seance table with your knee when a cameraman who was running a hidden camera turns on the light to reveal himself.

by Lexanne Leonard

This isn’t a tanning booth, Mr. Glenn.  Turn off that light. 
You think you are so clever, Mr. Glenn.  I know you think you know what is happening, but you don’t.  I know you have a camera under the table.  I am psychic, for Hecate’s sake.
So sit down.  Relax and I’ll take you with us on our journey.  It looks as if I was raising the table with my leg?  I was.  I knew the camera was running and wanted you to reveal yourself before I began. Now SIT and be quiet and don’t embarrass yourself again.
Everyone clasp hands and close your eyes.  Breathe deeply and think about the loved one you are missing.  Mr. Glenn, SIT UP!  And hold hands.  You may roll your eyes as much as you wish, but you will stay till the end.
Mr. Glenn, I see a face calling, no, clamoring for your attention.  Who can that be, Mr. Glenn?  I see green, a forest.  Yes, but it is dark.  Night.  It is coming clearer.  I need to touch, you, Mr. Glenn, for a more direct connection.  Don’t fret.  I’ll only lay my hands on your shoulders.  I want to see who is screaming for…no, not screaming for you…screaming at you.  She’s a pretty thing, Mr. Glenn, except for the red…poor little pixie… red running down her face, covering that sweet swan neck. 
Mr. Glenn, not so clever now, I think.  Relax.  I ‘m sure the light will go on and you can explain to us why her hands are red, too.  Such a pretty thing.  A light summer dress of voile with blue flowers.  No. No. Butterflies.  A little sprite leaving this earth in such a disagreeable way.  Oh my, Mr. Glenn, she’s stopped moving.  I see a hand reach down and grab the scarf clutched against her breast.  It’s maroon…won’t show too much of the blood, will it?  I see feet running away through the leaves, crunching in the still of the night.  I feel heavy breathing and drips of sweat exploding off the peat of the forest floor. 
Want to turn the lights on, Mr. Glenn?

Reverb10 – December 28 – Achieve

It sits on my shoulder whispering into my ear,
a nasty little incubus demanding attention.
When I listen
I let in its dark soul.
It implants a miniscule prick,
stretching into a pockmark,
blossoming into a funnel.
Swirling in blackness,
I find myself partnered, tangoing with the brute,
not dancing with rapture but
bellowing through the vulgar din.
The specter’s salacious grip,
I must resist
for when the volatile whirling stops,  
when the bravura stills,
I’m abandoned with my feet planted in the muck,
breathless from the melee.
I can stay.
It is manageable when the bedlam subsides.
Warm, just a bit beyond comfortable.
Gloom soothing for the eyes,
but awkward to focus.
Quiet, granting for the wearisome
undercurrent roar of my darkened thoughts.
I must subjugate the demon, this ego.
Thrive in the light where clarity is defined in the brilliance of balance.
Frolic in truth and gallivant with veracity.
Perch where there is ice and heat and temperate breezes.
And attend to the silence of the morning snow,
or the roar of the game or the comfort of His voice.
This ego must be tamed.
Hatred will forever demand patience.
Hurt will always cry out for soothing.
Righteous nagging will require gentling.
But when the ego is charmed,
the swirling vortex will rest, voices will rejoice,
and there will be dancing.

December 28 – Achieve
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Reverb10 – December 27 – Ordinary Joy

Canticle of Life
I wait.
In early spring, when
days are just warm enough, and
nights not too cold,
windows open, not
too far,
welcoming kisses of past-midnight breezes.
It is then, I
wait in early spring, anticipating
an arrival.  Once
and again to imbibe in sweet blessed notes.
You see,
in early spring, I
Before the rise of the sun, in
the darkest part of life,
when souls are resting,
I wait, for
the first confirmation, only
a single trill to usher in morning song, before
the sky layers apricot
on coral with splashes of cream
lifting its indigo shade.
Then choruses uniting, unfolding
a canticle of life, in
the early morning spring, when
I wait.

December 27 – Ordinary Joy.
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was 
one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

Reverb10 – December 26 – Soul Food

Soul Food

Extracting a smile from its persnickety proclivity,

this soul yearns for fodder lifting its palate from vapid absurdity.
Nourishment to satisfy the fervor captious,
leaving behind provender, hoary and vacuous.
The gauntlet thrown down, this creature commands
viand to ease its ravenousness grandstand.
Delighting desire with snacks so ambrosia,
luscious nibbles and morsels amidst redolent aroma.
What fuels this heady barbarian lust?
Fills this edacious shaft? Oh, that it must.
Minister the savage ache submerged deep inside?
Terminating want with sumptuous satiating stride?
They feed me.
December 26 – Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

Reverb10 – December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself.  Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)
         I run from the camera.  I really don’t want to see myself.  So, not surprisingly, the only photo I have of myself from this past year is my school ID photo.
         However, I did a workshop this summer with the Center for Digital Storytelling.  I wrote a short script.  It is a narrative about something important to me, my story.  I had to gather artifacts, which turned out to be photos.
         Since it is Christmas and I want to write a poem about this but I am a bit tired, I’m going to again post the film I made this summer about my mom and me.  I think it says it all for now, with the hope of a poem later.

Click here to see  A Prayer for My Mother